Public Safety

Director of non-profit who skimmed funds sentenced to prison, home confinement

Serving 8 months total


A director of a local non-profit who diverted over $114,000 in donations to support his “sex addiction” was sentenced last week to three months in federal prison and five months home confinement.

Jon S. Petersen, 55, of Cedar Rapids, director of World Ambassadors Ltd., pleaded guilty in May to one count of filing a false tax return in U.S. District Court.

During the plea hearing, Petersen admitted to filing a fraudulent income tax return for 2013. The return didn’t include as income the donations he diverted from World Ambassadors into his personal checking account.

World Ambassadors is a charity organization that provides international students with housing. The non-profit was created in 1993, according to the Iowa Secretary of State website.

A plea agreement shows Petersen admitted he used $114,581 of those funds in 2013 for his own personal use, which would be considered taxable income for him.

The number of contributors to World Ambassadors from 2010-2014 ranged from 31 to 38 people, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. From January 2010 through December 2014, the non-profit received total deposits of $476,466. Of those deposits, $475,555 was deposited into Petersen’s personal checking account either by bank transfers or checks payable to himself from that account.

Petersen claimed he struggled with a sex addiction from 2005-2015, prosecutors said. Petersen would pay for this addiction through his credit cards, home equity lines of credit, and World Ambassadors’ donations.


U.S. District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand sentenced Petersen on Sept. 20 to serve three months in federal prison and five months home confinement. He was also ordered to make $79,732 in restitution to donors of World Ambassadors. Strand also ordered that he serve a one-year term of supervised release following his prison time.

Petersen was released on a bond previously set and he will surrender to a designated federal prison on a date yet to be determined.


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